The newly enacted Patent Laws make patents more important to obtain and more enforceable to carry. Best of all, in the midst of big corporate world’s patent cold war, the new Patent Laws open a door to let startups and early-stage companies join the battlefield on even ground. Here’s how.
The America-Invents-Act (AIA) created a first-to-file standard for awarding patent priority. In one sentence, this standard awards priority to an inventor who is first to file for patent on an invention (Inventor A) over any other inventor (Inventor B), even if Inventor B could prove that he came up with the invention before Inventor A filed for the patent.
What does this mean for you? You’re in a race to the patent office to protect your intellectual property.
The pros: A cleaner administrative process makes for a more enforceable patent system.
The cons: The inventor with the most money is most likely to be the one to file for patent first, thereby winning the priority to any patent rights the invention may have.
The equalizer: In anticipation of this pitfall, the AIA reduces patent filing fees by 75% for inventors who qualify for Micro-Entity.
Do you qualify for micro-entity status? Well, if you have to ask…. you probably qualify! Here are the requirements:
- You are an individual or small business (a small entity),
- Less than 4 filed patent applications (provisional don’t count),
- Your income is less than $150k a year (that’s three times the median household income for last year), and
- You don’t assign your patent rights to a non-micro entity.
Watch out for requirement #4. If you end up licensing or assigning your patent application to a larger business, you may no longer qualify for this entity status. That may not mean that you’ll have to account for the difference on the fees you’ve already paid, but it may mean that any subsequent fees continue your patent examination will go up.
If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.
Yuri Eliezer heads the intellectual property practice group at Founders Legal. As an entrepreneur who saw the importance of early-stage patent protection, Yuri founded SmartUp®. Clients he has served include Microsoft, Cisco, Cox, AT&T, General Electric, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Coca-Cola.
Source: Smartup Legal